Miles Greenwood and the Eagle Iron Works… the Ohio War Machine!

As I tallied the particulars for the Ohio batteries last week, the number of James rifles reported on hand reminded me of an “Ohio story” if you will and how many of those batteries were equipped for war.  I’ve mentioned Miles Greenwood and the Eagle Foundry on occasion.  Time to formally introduce this important manufacturer of cannon… and other things!

Miles Greenwood is much the stereotypical 19th century American success story.   Ohio History Central (and the Farm Collector website) offer basic biographies of Greenwood.   Allow me to skip some of those details and focus on those pertaining to armaments manufacture.  Greenwood established the Eagle Iron Works (sometimes cited as a “foundry”) in 1832.  Cincinnati was a bustling riverport on the Ohio with connections (via canal) to Lake Erie at this time, and was a lucrative place for such manufacturing. Greenwood captured that market, producing, among other things, hardware, farm implements, river-boat equipment, and even fire-fighting apparatus.  Greenwood’s Eagle Iron Works stood along the Miami Canal, off what is today Central Parkway, in downtown Cincinnati. (Far as I know, the Ohio Mechanics Institute building is the only vestige of Greenwood’s once powerful industrial empire.  Please drop a note if you know of others!)


But mass production of military grade weapons require specialty techniques.  Bronze cannon casting, for instance, necessitated careful monitoring and demanding inspections before simply “letting fly”.  So how much experienced did the Eagle Iron Works have at cannon production?

Well the vendor is connected to a couple of cannon cast for Texians in 1836.  These were purchased by sympathetic citizens of Cincinnati and sent to Texas under false shipping documents.  Named the “Twin Sisters” in lore, these cannon are not well described in first hand accounts.  Where these bronze or iron?  Where these 4-pdr or 6-pdr guns?  And were they actually produced by Greenwood, or simply sold by Greenwood?  (As readers know, I get particular about such… particulars…)  At any rate, the guns saw action at San Jacinto in April 1836.  That we can connect Greenwood to cannon is significant, as at least we know the firm was involved with armaments.  As it stands there is scant indication Greenwood’s corporation, before the Civil War, had the ability to produce large quantities of cannon or small arms.

But when the calendar turned to 1861, Greenwood’s factory suddenly became a major supplier of arms.  In April 1861, the state of Ohio needed rifled muskets to arm their volunteers.  The solution reached was for Greenwood to convert Model 1842 smoothbore muskets to rifles.  And that was done at a prodigious rate!  By December 1861, some 8,400 were converted.  Throughout the war, Greenwood continued to modify old weapons, to include conversions of flintlocks to percussion.  (See George D. Moller’s American Military Shoulder Firearms, Volume III for more background on the Greenwood rifles… or better still, join me in calling for Phil Spaugy to walk us through all those details… to include the special sights provided!)

Since this is “To the Sound of the Guns” and we talk artillery, my interest with Greenwood is on the cannon.  In the past I’ve mentioned the firm’s 6-pdr field gunsJames rifles, 12-pdr howitzers, and 12-pdr Napoleons.  Reviewing Ordnance Department records, Greenwood delivered forty-six 6-pdr field guns, fifty-one James Rifles, fourteen 12-pdr field howitzers, and fifty Napoleons.  So just 161 guns from the Eagle Iron Works?  Not hardly.

Keep in mind the procurement system of 1861 was not as today’s.  In addition to Federal orders from the Ordnance Department, state authorities placed orders for artillery pieces.  Ohio, of course, was among those placing orders.  Likely, some of the James rifles listed with the Ohio batteries in January 1863 were Greenwood products.

In addition to new castings, Ohio also attempted the same “trick” applied to those old muskets – conversion of 6-pdr smoothbores to rifles.  From from the Annual Report of the Ohio Quartermaster-General, for 1861 (page 587):

Of the thirty-three smooth bore six-pounders under the control of the [State] Quartermaster-General at the beginning of the rebellion, twenty-seven have been rebushed, rebored, and rifled, at a cost of thirteen hundred and fifty dollars.  These guns are all now in service, and in all respects are fully equal to the best rifled six-pounders in the field.

Of course, “equal to the best rifled six-pounders in the field” was a relative assessment. A good portion, if not all, of this work was completed by Greenwood.

And Ohio was not the only state calling on Greenwood.  On May 7, 1861, the Cincinnati Daily Enquirer reported:

Miles Greenwood & Co. yesterday received an order from Governor Morton, of Indiana, to manufacture twenty large pieces of brass cannon forthwith.

In addition, Greenwood attempted to make wrought iron guns… though with not so good results.  On July 9 the same paper seconded a report:

The Indianapolis Sentinel insists that Governor Morton has sent back to Miles Greenwood, Esq, of this city, Captain Wilder’s wrought iron guns, for the reason they were unfit for use.


This seems to reference to the 26th Indiana Artillery.  We know, at least by January 1863, that battery had 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.

Lower echelons of government were also wanting for artillery.  On August 29, 1861, the Cincinnati Commercial Tribune reported the city’s Military Committee approved the mayor to contact Greenwood “for two batteries of artillery, consisting of six pieces each, together with equipments….” The cost was not to exceed $7,930 per battery.  Later reports indicated disbursement of the approved funds.  So the city received at least some cannon from Greenwood, type and caliber not specified.

And even private citizens had interest in Greenwood’s guns. On April 19, 1861, when the war was still just a great storm fast approaching, the Commercial Tribune ran a news item:

We understand Miles Greenwood was waited upon yesterday afternoon, by a company of patriotic ladies from the Sixth Ward, to ascertain from him whether the Government had given him any encouragement for the manufacture of cannon for the defense of our country.  If not, they had concluded to take the responsibility, and would order a number of 42-pounder rifle cannon, to be ready at the earliest possible moment. They are intended for fortifying the hills about our city.  This is patriotism for you.

There is no indication Greenwood produced any 42-pdr rifled cannon in response.  But without doubt, the presence of the foundry set many civilian minds at ease.

With the ramp-up for war, Greenwood expanded.  By October 12 of the year, the Commercial Tribune indicated, “At the foundry of Miles Greenwood about four hundred men are now employed in the manufacture, rifling and improvement of field pieces, lances and muskets for the army.” And this was just the start.  As the war progressed, Greenwood expanded to include turrets for river ironclads and even Gatling guns!

There in Cincinnati at south the edge of Over-the-Rhine, Greenwood’s Eagle Iron Works became a converted arms industry providing weapons for Ohio and neighboring states. There are parallels to mobilization of industry for World War I and World War II in the 20th century.  The facilities for making plowshares were re-tasked for making swords.  And once the war was over, just as would occur in 1919 and 1945, the factory returned to plowshares.

Summary Statement, 1st Quarter, 1863 – Ohio’s Independent Batteries, Part 1

Ohio designated twenty-six batteries as “independent” numbered units during the Civil War.  As with our look at the previous quarter, we’ll split those into halves to facilitate detailed discussion (… and well.. also because the section is split across two pages in the summaries!).  So the first fourteen appear as such:


With ten of those reporting:

  • 1st Battery: No report. Captain James R. McMullin commanded this battery, supporting the Third Division, Eighth Corps, and posted to Kanawha Falls, West Virginia. The battery had 3-inch Ordnance Rifles at this time.
  • 2nd Battery: Reporting at Helena, Arkansas with  two 12-pdr field howitzers and four 3.80-inch James Rifles. At the start of the winter, Captain Newton J. Smith commanded this battery assigned to Twelfth Division (later Third Division), Thirteenth Corps.  Lieutenant Augustus Beach replaced Smith near the beginning of spring.
  • 3rd Battery: At Berry’s Landing, Louisiana with two 6-pdr field guns and four 3.80-inch James Rifles.   Berry’s Landing was a placename upstream of Helena, Arkansas, not in Louisiana!  In this case, the battery was around Lake Providence at the end of winter 1863.  So it is likely there were two such placenames in use.  Was assigned to Third Division, Seventeenth Corps.  Captain William S. Williams commanding.
  • 4th Battery:  At Milliken’s Bend, Louisiana with two 12-pdr field howitzers and four 3.80-inch James Rifles.  Captain Louis Hoffmann’s battery assigned to First Divsision, Fifteenth Corps.
  • 5th Battery:  At Memphis, Tennessee with two 6-pdr field guns, two 12-pdr field howitzers, and two 3.80-inch James Rifles.  Commanded by Lieutenant Anthony B. Burton.  Briefly assigned to the Seventeenth Corps at the start of the winter months. Later, in January, moved with the rest of the division (Fourth) to Sixteenth Corps.
  • 6th  Battery:  Reporting from Murfreesboro, Tennessee with two 12-pdr Napoleons (replacing 6-pdrs) and four 10-pdr Parrotts. Captain Cullen Bradley remained in command of the battery, which was assigned to First Division, Twenty-First Corps with the reorganizations that winter.
  • 7th Battery: Memphis, Tennessee with four 3.80-inch James Rifles.  Like the 5th Battery, the 7th was briefly listed in the Seventeenth Corps until the Forth Division transferred to the Sixteenth Corps.   Captain Silas A. Burnap remained commander.
  • 8th Battery: No report.  Commanded by Captain (promoted)  James F. Putnam, this battery was assigned to Second Division, Fifteenth Corps.
  • 9th Battery: Brentwood, Tennessee (between Franklin and Nashville) with six 12-pdr Napoleons. Commanded by Captain Harrison B. York and assigned to the Reserve Corps, Army of the Cumberland.
  • 10th Battery: Lake Providence, Louisiana with four 3.80-inch James Rifles. At the start of January 1863, this battery,  under Captain Hamilton B. White, was in Sixth Division, Sixteenth Corps.  But that division moved to the Seventeenth Corps later in the month.  You need a cheat sheet to follow Grant’s old Thirteenth Corps reorganizations!
  • 11th Battery: No report. Was part of the Seventh Division, Sixteenth Corps at the start of January.  When the division transferred to the Seventeenth Corps, the battery went along. By the end of spring, Lieutenant Fletcher E. Armstrong was in command.
  • 12th Battery: At Aquia Creek, Virginia with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. Captain Aaron C. Johnson commanded this battery assigned to the Eleventh corps.
  • 13th Battery: No report. Losing all its guns at Shiloh, this battery ceased to exist after April 1862.
  • 14th Battery: Jackson, Tennessee with two 12-pdr Napoleons and four 3-inch Ordnance rifles. The battery part of the District of Jackson (though at Lynnville, Tennessee), Thirteenth Corps at this time, under Lieutenant Homer H. Stull.

What I like about this set of batteries is the variation among gun tubes assigned.  We see some 6-pdrs and field howitzers still on hand.  A lot of James Rifles.  But the Napoleons, Parrotts, and Ordnance Rifles beginning to replace the older weapons. An interesting mix for the middle of the war.

Turning to smoothbore projectiles:


Like a canister blast pattern!

  • 2nd Battery: 41 shell, 113 case, and 77 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • 3rd Battery: 120 shot, 143 case, and 59 canister for 6-pdr field guns.
  • 4th Battery: 110 shell, 105 case, and 92 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • 5th Battery: 40 shot, 267 case, and 93 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 57 shell, 147 case, and 82 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • 6th Battery: 118 shot, 52 shell, 76 case, and 80 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • 9th Battery: 180 shot, 243 shell, 446 case, and 310 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • 14th Battery: 148 shot, 48 shell, 150 case, and 58 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.

Moving to rifled projectiles, we start with the Hotchkiss types:


We can split this page between the James Rifles (majority) and the Ordnance Rifles (two battery).  Starting with Hotchkiss projectiles for James rifles:

  • 2nd Battery: 60 shot, 127 percussion shell, and 310 fuse shell for 3.80-inch rifles.
  • 3rd Battery: 58 fuse shell for 3.80-inch rifles.
  • 4th Battery: 55 shot and 240 percussion shell for 3.80-inch rifles.
  • 7th Battery: 66 shot for 3.80-inch rifles.
  • 10th Battery: 39 shot and 71 fuse shell for 3.80-inch rifles.

Now the two batteries with Hotchkiss for 3-inch Ordnance Rifles:

  • 12th Battery: 171 percussion shell, 497 fuse shell, and 407 bullet shell in 3-inch.
  • 14th Battery: 148 canister, 160 percussion shell, 160 fuse shell, and 340 bullet shell in 3-inch.

For simplicity, let’s break the next page into batches.  Starting with some “trailing columns” of Hotchkiss and those of Dyer’s Patent:


One line for Hotckiss left:

  • 10th Battery: 389 canister for 3.80-inch rifles.

And likewise for Dyer’s:

  • 12th Battery: 120 canister for 3-inch.

Moving to the James-patent projectiles, as we would expect there are many entries:


  • 2nd Battery: 51 shot in 3.80-inch.
  • 3rd Battery: 63 shot and 210 shell in 3.80-inch.
  • 4th Battery: 170 shell in 3.80-inch.
  • 5th Battery: 55 shot, 151 shell, and 95 canister in 3.80-inch.
  • 7th Battery: 60 shell and 100 canister in 3.80-inch.
  • 10th Battery:  203 shell in 3.80-inch.

Moving to the right, one battery with Parrotts, so….


  • 6th Battery:  440 shell, 347 case, and 60 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.

Turning to the next page…


Just a few entries for Schenkl shells:

  • 3rd Battery: 122 shells for 3.80-inch.
  • 7th Battery: 320 shells for 3.80-inch.
  • 10th Battery: 176 shells for 3.80-inch.

Where we see James rifles in use, we often see Tatham’s Canister:

  • 2nd Battery: 144 canister in 3.80-inch.
  • 3rd Battery: 78 canister in 3.80-inch.
  • 4th Battery: 90 canister in 3.80-inch.
  • 7th Battery: 80 canister in 3.80-inch.

I find interesting that among these batteries with James rifles, there is a mix of shells from different patent types.  And with the canister, we see the 7th Battery reported both James’ and Tatham’s on hand – thus alluding to differences with the two types.

We close with the small arms:


By battery reporting:

  • 2nd Battery: Three Army revolvers and twelve cavalry sabers.
  • 3rd Battery: Twenty-three Army revolvers, eight cavalry sabers, and eight horse artillery sabers.
  • 4th Battery: Twenty-five Army revolvers, fifty-five cavalry sabers, six horse artillery sabers, and eighteen foot artillery sabers.
  • 5th Battery: Seven Navy revolvers and sixteen cavalry sabers.
  • 7th Battery: Ten Army revolvers and seven horse artillery sabers.
  • 9th Battery: Thirteen horse artillery sabers.
  • 10th Battery: Five Army revolvers and thirteen cavalry sabers.
  • 14th Battery: Thirty Army revolvers and thirty horse artillery sabers.

Notice the 12th Battery, posted in Virginia, reported no small arms on hand. I would expect the battery to have some arms on hand, but not many.

Tanks! A little off topic… but good history is good history!

Let’s slide up the time line to World War II for just a bit… a blogger’s indulgence, if you may allow:

But hey… he spends much of the presentation discussing the finer points of the Sherman tank, named after General William “Uncle Billy” Sherman.  So I claim a Civil War connection on that basis.

This is a lengthy video (just over 45 minutes).  But worth the listen.  Nicholas Moran turns what would normally be a bland discussion of olive drab minutia into an entertaining presentation.

I’ll admit to envy of Moran’s job.  He works for and gets paid to go around doing research in promotion of the company’s products… which include the World of Tanks game.  I usually keep aloof from wargame discussions, for several reasons.  But I do find many of the analysis models used with wargaming (speaking to the hobby in general, not just the company with their fancy video games) to be most useful tools for the historian’s trade.

At any rate, Moran asks us to call into question “common knowledge” about historical events.  He’s not saying something is wrong.  He’s asking us to challenge what is often accepted as fact.  That common knowledge, he contends, should be supported by sources.

Furthermore, we should put those sources in context.  Fast forward to the 14 minute mark and you see Moran mention Belton Cooper’s Death Traps.  A fine read.  Cooper’s memoirs are on many professional reading lists, for good reason.  But, when used as source material, a memoir must be placed into context.  In this particular case, the writer of the memoir was not an authoritative source for a specific piece of “common knowledge.”  Again, this is not to say Cooper is all wrong or should be discounted in whole.  It is to say we must weigh each component equally with other sources.

For those of us who study the Civil War, doesn’t that sound familiar?  It should!

How about this – Sherman, the general, didn’t go about spontaneously burning everything across Georgia and the Carolinas.  The real story is more complex.  And we know of that complexity from thorough examination of the source materials.

Likewise, Sherman, the tank, was not more prone to catching fire than any other armored fighting vehicle of its time.  The real story is, also, more complex. And we know of that complexity… you guessed it… from examining the source materials.

Good history is the product of proper analysis of source materials, to include understanding context.  The time period in focus does not change the rules about sources.

Fortification Friday: Splinter proof shelter, from the wartime experience

Last week, we split all manner of hairs regarding shelters within fortifications. Some of this hair-splitting had to do with nomenclature – shot proof, shell proof, and splinter proof.  And we saw that post-war writings introduced differences between facilities designated magazines and those designated shelters.  We can read into this a shift in doctrine.  Not only fortification doctrine, but also that of the practice of artillery.  After all, there existed (and still exists) a direct relationship between fortifications and artillery.

Let us focus on the splinter proof shelter for the moment.  Prior to the war, Mahan mentioned splinter proofing as a means to protect the magazine entrance.  But after the war, he introduced a structure called splinter proof shelter:

Splinter proofs for trenches and enclosed works faced with timber from eight to twelve inches in diameter, and covered with a sheeting of thick boards, and from four to six feet of earth, which are supported by uprights at the back; having a board flooring as shown in the figure, have been recently used in our field works and trenches with great benefit in the saving of life.

And the illustration provided demonstrates such as structure:


Note the dimensions of the interior of this splinter proof.  Eight feet tall at the entrance, slanting to six feet.  Shown as 3 ½ feet wide, with a plank floor.  The structure is open to the left, which would be the interior, or rear, of the line of works.  And it is partially sunk into the ground, roughly three feet deep.  The arrangement would protect the occupants from direct fire (from the right of view) and high angle fire (dropping on top).  Being partially sunk down, some protection was afforded against shells bursting behind (to the left) of the structure.  But clearly the solution balance ease of access against protection.

And notice the caption, “Shows a section of Splinter Proof used in the trenches at the Siege of Fort Wagner.”  Yes, we’ve seen this sort of structure before… many times:


Looking to a handy example, right at the top is the a-a’ profile line, working from one of the splinter proofs forward through Battery Brown to the Howitzer Battery in the Second Parallel. For cross reference, this line runs through the red oval highlighted here:


A clean look at the profile:


Looking to the left, we see a slightly more elaborate splinter proof shelter, with two supporting uprights.  But notice the Battery Brown splinter proof is at surface level, not sunk in.

Something closer to what Mahan illustrated stood just a few yards behind Battery Brown, indicated by profile d-d’:


In profile:


The walk-space is wider than on Mahan’s diagram. But the structure generally matches. We know from reading accounts from the campaign, the intent was to provide shelter for troops staged for work on the parallels.  The orientation of the trench provided protection from Confederate batteries further up on Morris Island, as well as those on James Island. The Confederate fires reaching this point of the Federal lines were typically large caliber weapons fired at higher elevations.  Though not high-angle as used with mortars, which were out of range to hit these Federal trenches, the columbiad shells arrived at an angle which would normally defeat standard parapets.  So a splinter proof provided some overhead protection.

So we see, documented with the maps, diagrams, and accounts from Morris Island, a shift in emphasis for field fortifications.  This is not to say overhead cover was not used prior to the Civil War. Nor is it to say splinter proof shelters did not appear on earlier battlefields.  What it does say is that field experience in the Civil War caused engineers to focus more attention on overhead cover, to the extent that more elaborate shelters were built.  A shift in doctrine, you see.

Keep in mind, these examples come from a field army engaged in a siege.  So field fortifications directed for offensive purposes, as opposed to defensive arrangements.  Certainly these sort of works continued to appear on Morris Island after the fall of Battery Wagner, as the Federal presence shifted more to garrison of the hard-gained foothold in front of Charleston.  But more to the point – field fortifications are “tools” that can be used for either defense or offense as the tactical situation demands.  (And thus we’ll see later “lessons” from Mahan on how to build fortifications in support of siege operations.)

Writing even later, Junius Wheeler would further refine wartime experience to suggest even more elaborate shelters, in particular using wartime experience building the defenses of Washington.  We’ll consult Wheeler’s lessons in turn… before then, we should consider another of those split hairs – shelters vs. magazines.

(Citation from Mahan, An Elementary Course of Military Engineering: Part 1: Field Fortifications, Military Mining, and Siege Operations, New York: John Wiley & Son, 1870, page 52.)


Summary Statement, 1st Quarter, 1863 – 1st Ohio Light Artillery

O-H!  I-O!  All the Buckeyes are standing up making letters with their arms now…..

Referring back to the fourth quarter, 1862 summaries, we noted the 1st Ohio Light Artillery Regiment was equipped with some of the less preferred cannons.  We also found the regiment split between the Armies of the Cumberland and Potomac:


Given the reorganizations that winter, we have dots to connect for the administrative columns:

  • Battery A: At Murfreesboro, Tennessee with two 12-pdr Napoleons and four 3.80-inch James Rifles.  According to the unit history, the battery held two 12-pdr howitzers and a pair of Napoleons through the winter months.  On March 22th, they received four new James Rifles, turning in the howitzers. Captain Wilbur F. Goodspeed resumed command during the winter.  Under reorganizations, the battery went to Second Division, Twentieth Corps, Army of the Cumberland.
  • Battery B: Reporting at Nashville, Tennessee with two 6-pdr field guns and four 3.80-inch James Rifles.  Remaining under Captain William E. Standart, this battery was part of Second Division, Twenty-First Corps, Army of the Cumberland. And as such, was actually at the forward outpost position (with the rest of the division) “up on Cripple Creek”…Tennessee.
  • Battery C: At Lavergne, Tennessee with two 12-pdr Napoleons (replacing two 6-pdr field guns from the previous report) and four 3.80-inch James Rifles. Captain Daniel K. Southwick remained commanded this battery. Under reorganizations, it was assigned to the Third Division, Fourteenth Corps.
  • Battery D: Wintering at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, with three 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  This report covered just one section, under Lieutenant Nathaniel M. Newell, with the Second Division, Cavalry Corps, Army of the Cumberland.  Captain Andrew J. Konkle was the batter commander, but his name does not appear on reports until later in the spring, with a section assigned to First Division of the same Cavalry Corps.  Konkle reported ill through the winter, leaving him unable to perform manual labor and the basis for an invalid pension claim after the war.
  • Battery E: No report. Captain Warren P. Edgarton’s battery was initially assigned to Second Division, Twentieth Corps.   This battery suffered heavily, losing its guns, at Stones River. As such, it was posted to Nashville through the winter months.  Edgarton became the artillery commander of the Nashville garrison.  Lieutenant Stephen W. Dorsey assumed command of the battery, which was later assigned to the Reserve Corps, Army of the Cumberland.
  • Battery F: No report. Lieutenant Norval Osburn assumed on the field at Stones River. Later in the winter Captain Daniel T. Cockerill recovered from his wounds and returned to command.  The battery served in Second Division, Twenty-first Corps. For the previous quarter, reporting two 12-pdr field howitzers and four 3.80-inch James Rifles. But consolidated reports indicate the battery had six 12-pdr Napoleons and five 3.80-inch James Rifles (!).
  • Battery G: At Murfreesboro with four 12-pdr Napoleons and two 3-inch Ordnance Rifles (completely re-equipped after Stones River).  Captain Alexander Marshall’s battery assigned to Second Division, Fourteenth Corps.
  • Battery H: At Falmouth, Virginia with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. Captain James F. Huntington resumed command of this battery.  The battery supported Third Division, Third Corps, Army of the Potomac.
  • Battery I: Reporting at Stafford Court House, Virginia with six 12-pdr Napoleons. Captain Hubert Dilger’s battery were part of Third Division, Eleventh Corps.
  • Battery K: No report.  Commanded by Captain William L. De Beck, this battery supported First Division, Eleventh Corps.  I believe they were armed with 12-pdr Napoleons at this time.
  • Battery L:  At Stafford, Virginia with Six 12-pdr Napoleons. Captain Frank C. Gibbs had command of this battery, supporting Second Division, Fifth Corps.
  • Battery M: Also at Murfreesboro and reporting one 6-pdr field gun, two 3-inch steel guns, and three 3.80-inch James Rifles (considerably different from the previous quarter, but still a mixed battery).  Captain Frederick Schultz commanded this battery, assigned to Second Division, Fourteenth Corps.

Two tangents to recognize with the administrative details and cannons reported.  As mentioned before the Army of the Cumberland’s reorganization from one corps (with wings) into multiple corps caused considerable re-alignment through the winter.  Secondly, those same batteries, while not quite up to the level of those in the east, were phasing out the less efficient 6-pdr guns and 12-pdr howitzers.  The James Rifles, however, persisted.

With the winter refitting of the batteries in mind, consider the quantities and types of smoothbore ammunition reported on hand:


Excepting Batteries D and H, every reporting battery had some smoothbore ammunition on hand:

  • Battery A: 56 shot, 64 shell, 108 case, and 72 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery B: 40 canister for 6-pdr field guns.
  • Battery C: 15 shot, 42 case, and 46 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 96 shot, 32 shell, and 64 canister for 12-pdr Napoleon.
  • Battery G: 77 shot and 148 canister for 6-pdr guns; 168 shot, 64 shells, 128 case, and 64 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons; then 143 shell and 46 canister for 12-pdr howitzers.
  • Battery I: 288 shot, 96 shell, 288 case, and 96 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery L: 312 shot, 112 shell, 296 case, and 136 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery M: 64 shot, 105 case, and 27 canister for 6-pdr field guns.

So Battery B only had canister for its 6-pdrs.  Battery C retained 6-pdr ammunition, at least at the end of the quarter, after turning in two 6-pdrs.  But those are small issues compared with Battery G, which had substantial amounts of ammunition for guns it had lost earlier.

Turning to the rifled projectiles, there are first the Hotchkiss:


Two calibers to consider – 3-inch and 3.80-inch:

  • Battery A:  90 shot for 3.80-inch James.
  • Battery C: 102 shot, 379 fuse shell, and 96 bullet shell for 3.80-inch James.
  • Battery D: 54 canister and 60 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery G: 77 canister, 96 percussion shell, 120 fuse shell, and 96 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery H: 96 canister, 450 percussion shell, and 754 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery M:  56 canister, 115 percussion shell, 40 fuse shell, and 180 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles; 75 shot and 56 bullet shell for 3.80-inch James.

A couple more Hotchkiss entries on the next page, along with one for James projectiles:


The last two Hotchkiss columns:

  • Battery A: 60 Hotchkiss canister for 3.80-inch James.
  • Battery M: 94 Hotchkiss canister for 3.80-inch James.

And just one column of James-patent:

  • Battery C: 61 James shells for 3.80-inch James.

Moving to the last page of rifled projectiles:



  • Battery A: 440 Schenkl shells for 3.80-inch James.
  • Battery B: 240 Schenkl shells for 3.80-inch James.
  • Battery C: 403 Schenkl shells for 3.80-inch James.
  • Battery M:  102 Schenkl shells for 3.80-inch James.

And Tatham:

  • Battery B: 200 canister for 3.80-inch James.
  • Battery M: 42 canister for 3.80-inch James.

Lastly, we move to the small arms:


By battery:

  • Battery A: Three Navy revolvers and two cavalry sabers.
  • Battery B:  Three horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery C: Eight horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery G: Nine Navy revolvers and twelve horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery H: Twenty Army revolvers and fourty-eight horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery I: Twelve Navy revolvers and fourty-three horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery L: Eighteen Navy revolvers and thirty-seven horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery M: Seven Army revolvers and eight cavalry sabers.

Those eastern batteries seemed to carry more small arms than their western counterparts.

Aftermath of Hurricane Matthew: Forts survive storm surge; unearthed ordnance

Like many, I have monitored the news from the southeast as Hurricane Matthew over the last few days.  Friends and relatives living in and around the storm’s path all report they are fine and recovering.  The storm left behind a trail of damage and destruction, with over 300 reported deaths in Haiti alone and ten reported in the U.S.

But it could have been much worse.  The eye passed some 20 to 25 miles offshore of Tybee Island.  Later the center of the storm passed thirty miles eastward of Charleston before making landfall further up the coast near Cape Romain, not far from where Hurricane Hugo made landfall in 1989.  While Hugo was rated at category 4 when making landfall, Matthew was falling from category 2 down to 1 before reaching the coast.  Still the track covered a large section of coast from Florida to North Carolina.  As such, we see a lot of familiar place-names in news reports.

From Savannah, footage shows flooding at Fort Pulaski.  At first this appears dramatic… particularly from the view of the reporter (… who’s not yet visited the fort):


Yes, the fort is completely isolated, with a significant portion of Cockspur Island under water.  As of this writing, there are no on-site reports.  So we don’t have a full assessment.  But from this view, we can see the interior of the fort was not flooded.  A tree in the interior has fallen and the demilune is wet, but the casemates appear dry.  Relatively that is.  The video didn’t give a close view of the lighthouse further downriver.  Hopefully within a few days the water will drain off… and hopefully any damage is minor.  And this is largely due to the careful placement and construction of the fort. General Joseph Mansfield deserves much credit for the fort’s survival… 170 years after the fact!

Further up the coast, Forts Sumter and Moultrie were also within the storm’s path.  The forts closed and prepared to weather the storm:

No work as of this writing about the status of those forts.  So we are in “wait and see” mode. The storm surge crested to 9.29 feet at Fort Sumter at it’s peak.

However, Fort Sumter is in the news feeds due to a post-storm finding down the coast at Folly Island.  Erosion from the storm unearthed a pile of what appear to be shells:


Later reports added, “Authorities announced Sunday night that a number of the cannonballs were detonated by the Air Force and a small amount of them would be transported to the Naval Base.”

I don’t want to “Monday morning quarterback” here.  As I’ve said in the past, handling explosive ordnance is something we must… MUST … allow the experts to manage.  Some will offer, from a safe distance, these were fully inert.  Maybe so.  Maybe not.  “We” were not there, and don’t know all the details.  The individuals on the scene made a risk assessment and deemed action necessary.  We should accept their decision as the call to make.  All I would offer is that EOD teams, such as those called upon to respond at Folly Island, should have access to as much information on Civil War ordnance as possible to further aid their decisions.  Far better to incorporate what is known about the subject into their (EOD) policies and procedures than to openly criticize them for being cautious.  This hurricane killed at least ten here in the US.  And over 600,000 died in the Civil War.  We should not rush to add more to either grim tallies.

The value of this find was not with the actual shells themselves, but rather the context of the location. This site appears to be on the northern end of Folly Beach. Several Federal batteries stood in that area, guarding Lighthouse Inlet (and in July 1863, were used to support landings on Morris Island).  Archaeological surveys of the area have documented well some of the battery locations (as the gentleman in the video notes, the location was known by locals as a place where fortifications stood).  Hopefully this find will add to that knowledge.  Given the location, on eroded beach, it appears sufficient effort was made to document that context.  Perhaps this will spur further archaeological examinations in the area.

Fortification Friday: shot proof, bomb proof, splinter proof… those are not the same!

In the discussion of magazines thus far, I’ve contained our examination to Mahan’s pre-war instruction on the matter.  However, we should all recognize, from reading wartime reports, the use of the descriptions shot proof (shot-proof, or shotproof… you grammar enforcers need to sort out which is proper), bomb proof, and splinter proof.  Earlier, I pointed out that Mahan specifically used the term “shot proof” when defining powder magazines … in the context of field fortifications:

Powder magazines. The main objects to be attended to in a powder magazine are, to place it in the position least exposed to the enemy’s fire; to make it shot proof; and to secure the powder from moisture.

Let’s focus on these three terms (my definitions here):

  • Shot proof:  Possessing the ability to arrest or at least divert the trajectory of solid shot.  Preferably arrest the solid shot, leaving it embedded on the works or harmlessly bounced to the ground.  Ricochets were fine, but might be dangerous elsewhere in the works.
  • Bomb proof: Able to prevent damage due to shells.  Keep in mind the shell that embeds and explodes will cause more damage than one glancing off and exploding. So there are some desired properties that run contrary to the same structure being rated “shot proof.”
  • Splinter proof:  Has sufficient resistant qualities to arrest the trajectory of fragments from a shell.

Purist might also add structures designed to stop musketry.  True, but for now let us focus on that used to build magazines.  Thus we see three different … shall we say… ratings for defensive structures.  Each with different qualities and requirements.  Furthermore, prior to the war Mahan did not give much discussion about sheltering troops, equipment, or materials, other than the ammunition to be stored in magazines.

I think these are important hairs to be split.  Mahan retained the same definition for powder magazines in his post-war version of the text.  And simply repeated the same remarks about construction of such.  But, at the end of that section, he added the following:

The magazines here described, are only suited for works which are not expected to be occupied but for some weeks and are not exposed to attack of any but light field guns.  In all cases where lumber is abundant, it will be best to cover at top by a foot in thickness of pieces laid in juxtaposition, and to give a covering of at least six feet of thickness of earth on the most exposed side, and place the magazine entirely underground.

Skipping a paragraph on wartime splinter proofs (which we will return to later), Mahan proceeded to introduce by name the bomb proof magazine:

Bomb Proof Magazines. For field works of semi-permanent character which are to be indefinitely occupied, have an armament of heavy guns, and are expected to stand a siege, like the defenses around Washington for example.  The magazines, bomb, and splinter proof shelters, should be constructed of the heaviest timber, and be covered securely with earth from the assailant’s curvated and direct fire.

Notice here Mahan insists the bomb proof magazines need possess the ability to resist direct and indirect fire (which he called curvated).  And offered this figure as a suggested profile of the bomb proof:


We are going to examine this structure in more detail, but for now I want to focus attention on the front (right) side.  The diagram demonstrates as slope of 35°. On the interior side (left), we see a slope of 45°.  Thus the side not facing the enemy would retain the natural slope – that 45° slope at which the engineer would expect the pile of dirt to sustain itself against the force of gravity – while the side facing the enemy would have a gentler slope.  In fact, that front side has a slope just a bit greater than that preferred of the parapet.  This not only increased the chances of a projectile glancing off as a ricochet, but also improved the relative thickness of the magazine’s protective cover.  A World War II analogy is apt here – sloped armor of the T-34 tank as opposed to the straight sides of the Panzer IV (or early Tiger tanks).  Sloped armor… and sloped earth… is more resistant to projectiles.

Mahan does not dwell on the nature of this change.  We might easily speculate on the nature and improvement of rifled projectiles by the end of the Civil War. But I would call out another important shift in the practice of artillery fire by 1864.  That is more emphasis on indirect… curvated, if you prefer… fires.  As discussed during the sesquicentennial, the use of mortars, field artillery firing as mortars, and other forms of high-angle fire changed the battlefield.  (Though, sadly, this is a point lost on most historians who have explored the matter… as they rush to discuss rifled musketry and soldiers digging foxholes…..)

So we see one of these hairs – the differences between shot, shell, and splinter proofing – became rather important as Mahan re-assessed the practice of field fortification after the Civil War.

As to that other “hair” to split, Mahan also added, in his post war writings, a section on what he then termed bomb proof shelters.  Junius Wheeler, writing even later and when the lessons from the Franco-Prussian War were being digested, went one step further.  Wheeler actually subordinated magazines as a form of interior shelter.  Wheeler further reduced the ratings of these structures for simplicity:

Shelters. – An efficient defense of a field work is greatly aided by shelters, arranged for the men and the stores, so that the men can rest in them, and the stores be kept safe from the enemy’s fire.

Shelters are generally known as bomb-proofs, and splinter-proofs, which differ from each other only in capacity and strength.

Bomb-proofs must be strong enough to resist the effects both of the impact and the explosion of the projectiles which strike them.  They should be roomy, and when used by the men, should be well ventilated.

Splinter-proofs are so placed that they are not exposed to the impact of projectiles.  They are liable to be struck by fragments of shells, or splinters knocked off by the impact of a projectile, and are therefore made only strong enough to resist the effects of flying fragments and splinters produced by shells bursting, or by projectiles striking near them.

So now the emphasis is beyond just protecting the ammunition.  We see that emphasis expanded to include force protection!  Further demonstrating this shift, Wheeler considered magazines to be, “Shelters in which the ammunition and other stores can be placed and kept safe from the effects of the enemy’s fire….”   And also note that Wheeler collapsed shot proofing into shell proofing.

Why the shift?  Again, I say it is due in large part to changes in the practice of artillery fire.  With more use of vertical (or better labeled, high-angle) fires, the defenders had more need of overhead cover.  No longer could the defender simply hide behind a breastwork, but now had to worry about shells bursting overhead or dropping into the works.  This is not to say high-angle fires were “invented” for the Civil War.  Indeed, the mortar… nay… we can go back to trebuchets if you want… were in use centuries before the Civil War.  Rather, we see by 1864 the confluence of practice and technology (namely improved fuses) that allowed gunners to use high-angle fire with increased effectiveness.  Though… we should point out… not nearly as effectively as the gunners of 1916-18… when artillery was really the bully of the battlefield!  And… by no coincidence, it was at the same time we see the art of field fortification on display, using the French countryside as a canvas.

(Citations from Dennis Hart Mahan, A Treatise on Field Fortifications, New York: John Wiley, 1852, pages 58-9;  Mahan, An Elementary Course of Military Engineering: Part 1: Field Fortifications, Military Mining, and Siege Operations, New York: John Wiley & Son, 1870, page 52;  Junius B. Wheeler, The Elements of Field Fortifications, New York: D. Van Nostrand, 1882, pages 135-6, 139-40.)